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How do you understand "wildly" in the following passage from Chapter 6 of The Great...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 5, 2013 at 11:06 PM via web

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How do you understand "wildly" in the following passage from Chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby

“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.” 
“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” 
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. 
“I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.” 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 6, 2013 at 4:44 AM (Answer #1)

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Gatsby's "wild" look around him after he declares that a person can, indeed, repeat the past indicates his efforts to convince himself and ward off any challenges. That he  "determinedly" states that he is going to return everything to the way it was also points to his fear of being challenged by time. "She'll see," Gatsby pronounces as he gambles on the charm of his new wealth.

It is in this chapter that reality ceases to exist and Gatsby's illusions increase. 

The truth was that Jay Gatsby, of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's Business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty.

Material values are inextricably bound to dreams for Jay Gatsby. With his money, Gatsby believes that he can become attractive again to Daisy and win her away from Tom Buchanan despite the playing of the "sad little waltz," "Three o'Clock in the Morning" and the wealth of Tom.

It is Jay Gatsby's idealism that makes him convinced that he can "gulp down the incomparable milk of wonder," and pursue his American Dream.

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